Greece to return to debt markets after 3-year absence

Greece Facing Uncertain Future After Rejecting EU Proposals

ATHENS, July 24 (Reuters) - In its first attempt to return to the bond market in three years as its debt crisis eases, Greece on Monday invited holders of its 4.75 percent outstanding bonds maturing in 2019 to tender them for cash, along with a plan to offer new five-year paper.

It even managed to borrow at cheaper rates than in 2014, the last time it tapped the global bond market, HSBC, lead manager for the operation, told AFP.

Greece said it had mandated BNP Paribas, Citigroup Global Markets, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Merrill Lynch as joint lead managers for the benchmark-size offering.

The bond issue, which raised 3 billion euros, is "the most important message and the most significant step in order to finish this unpleasant adventure of the memorandum", he said in comments ahead of talks with visiting European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

Greece broke a three-year dry spell with a successful return to the debt markets on Tuesday, a symbolic victory for the beleaguered eurozone nation.

In a sign that the country is turning a corner the economy is projected to grow by 2.1% this year - after no growth at all in 2016.

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The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will also keep feeding the debt-ridden country with low interest rate loans (0.8 and 1.8 percent) until the end of the bailout programme in July 2018.

Earlier this month, eurozone finance ministers approved the latest €8.5 billion-euro disbursement from a third worldwide bailout, just in time for Athens to meet major debt repayments.

A Greek government official said more than 200 official offers worth 6.5 billion euros were made in the sale, saying that the majority of those were "real investors of worldwide caliber, not profiteering funds".

This gives Athens the chance to test without major financial risks its credibility in the markets.

However, the IMF said it would not release any funds until the eurozone agreed on a deal to cut Greece's €314bn debt burden.

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